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Ex-reformer sellout in Chicago Teamster Local 743 grabs at power

By staff |
June 5, 2010
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Chicago, IL – Larry Davis, the new president of Teamsters Local 743 in Chicago, fired five staff members on May 28. Davis had been installed by International President Jim Hoffa on May 14.

The five fired are Field Service Director Bill Silver, Lead Negotiator Catherine Schutzius, Business Agents J. Burger (University of Chicago Medical Center) and Joe Sexauer (University of Chicago) and Lead Organizer Makia Burns.

Were they fired because they weren’t working hard for the members of the union, or because their work performance was inferior? Not according to a flier released by the 743 New Leadership Team.

Fired reps Schutzius and Silver were in the middle of bargaining 20 contracts, including a major contract at the University of Chicago. Sexauer was coordinating a major contract campaign on the campus.

At UC Medical Center, Burger was working to resolve more than 50 outstanding grievances.

Members less important than upcoming union elections

Davis himself didn’t claim the staff were being fired for their failures, or for betraying the promises that they were elected on. In fact, when he fired them, Davis told each they had done a good job, but they were just not “part of his new team.”

In other words, the members of the union are taking a back seat to Davis’ takeover of the local - and its bank account.

Davis was elected as Vice President in Local 743 in 2007 with a platform to end corruption and collaboration with bosses. Once he got into office, he realized that President Richard Berg intended to make good on those promises. Berg cut salaries and insisted on holding union reps accountable. Larry Davis complained about his $85,000 a year salary being much too small. He complained about the amount of work he was expected to do. Then he collaborated with Hoffa and similar old guard officers in Chicago’s Joint Council to remove Berg and Secretary Treasurer Gina Alvarez from office on trumped up charges and put the entire reform program on hold.

Local 743 members kept in the dark about firings

Davis has made his point loud and clear: political loyalty to him is more important than loyalty to the membership.

In fact, just days after becoming president, Davis went on vacation instead of reaching out to inform Local 743 members about what was happening.

Under the corrupt administration of Walston and Lopez, members have seen what it means to play politics with our dues money. Before Davis’ treachery, the local was starting to turn things around.

The New Leadership Team’s statement called on members to send a message to Davis that they won’t go back to the way things used to be done. A petition is being circulated that states that members should be put before politics. Members are urged to attend the union meeting on June 7 and make their voices heard.

Davis got rid of the staff in order to best prepare the ground for himself being elected in local officer elections this fall. According to the leaflet, the 743 New Leadership Team will be running a slate of reform candidates.